compose the countenance

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Senior Member

I'm reading a passage of David Hume's essay called "The Epicurean" and I'm not sure what he means by countenance in the sentence below. He's talking criticizing philosophers for exalting reflection too much (in a nutshell). So what could it be in this context?

Thank you.

"Away then with all those vain pretences of making ourselves happy within ourselves, of feasting on our own thoughts, of being satisfied with the consciousness of welldoing, and of despising all assistance and all supplies from external objects. This is the voice of PRIDE, not of NATURE. And it were well if even this pride could support itself, and communicate a real inward pleasure, however melancholy or severe. But this impotent pride can do no more than regulate the outside, and, with infinite pains and attention, compose the language and countenance to a philosophical dignity, in order to deceive the ignorant vulgar."
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    In this case it means "face"; i.e., this pride allows someone to look and sound and if they were happy on the outside -- thus deceiving other people -- without actually making the person happy on this inside.
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